N is for neuropathy which is a painful degenerative nerve condition most commonly caused by diabetes. Symptoms may range from mild loss of sensation in the feet to constant pain in various parts of the body.There are several interesting remedies for neuropathy – some of which have had clinical trials conducted with specific usage.The first of these is alpha-lipoic acid, which is a great antioxidant. Alpha-lipoic acid protects against diabetic complications by improving glucose uptake, reducing the degree of sugar/insulin related nerve and tissue damage, increasing circulation and stimulating nerve regeneration. One particular study on type 2 diabetics with neuropathic symptoms of pain, burning, and numbness in the feet were given 600 mg of alpha-lipoic acid per day for three weeks. At the end of the study, all patients taking lipoic acid had significant improvements.Alpha lipoic acid is a good supplement for diabetics because of its multiple benefits. It may also be helpful in protecting against diabetes induced eye damage. There is currently research underway using alpha-lipoic acid on diabetic retinopathy.Another supplement used for neuropathy is GLA or gamma-linolenic acid, which is an omega 6 fatty acid. A British study used 480 milligrams of GLA on over 100 diabetics for one year. All of the patients taking GLA had significant improvements in each of 16 specific nerve and pain measurements at the end of one year. The researchers concluded that GLA may prevent and possibly reverse diabetic neuropathy when given in doses of 240 to 480 mg per day. The best GLA supplements for neuropathy are derived from evening primrose oil or borage oil.Herbal supplements that work well on neuropathy are combinations of ginkgo biloba, gotu kola and bacopa. Ginkgo biloba is an antioxidant herb that increases blood flow to the tiny capillaries throughout the body, improving oxygen and nutrient delivery to areas affected by both diabetic neuropathy and retinopathy. Gotu kola and bacopa are herbs that improve brain and nerve function. B vitamins are also extremely important for those with neuropathy since the B’s are known to help brain and nerve function. B-6 and B12 in a sublingual form are specifically recommended to those with neuropathy. Deficiencies in these vitamins are known to cause nerve damage even in those without diabetes. Homeopathy can also be effective. One of the newer remedies I recommend is a combination of alpha lipoic acid, B vitamins and homeopathics.Finally, take a good omega 3 supplement. It can be fish oil or flax oil. The most important thing is to take enough - at least 2000 mg per day of fish oil or 1-2 tablespoons per day of flax oil. Sometimes it is helpful to take a concentrated DHA supplement as that is the omega 3 oil that strengthens and calms the nervous system.
Margaret Durst owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas. www.naturalcowgirl.wordpress.com